Make up to 1K a month on Upwork in your spare time

Do you have some free time? Do you have good writing skills? Do you need some extra cash? Who doesn’t? Using the freelancing platform Upwork, you could put your writing muscle to good use and earn decent dollars in your spare time. With limited experience as a freelance writer prior to setting up my profile on Upwork, I was pleasantly surprised when I landed my first client within a day, then proceeded to make $500 in my first month! I’m now earning up to $1,000 per month by writing in my spare time. I’m going to share my secrets on how to make up to 1K a month on Upwork in your spare time.

DO spend time on your profile.

Your profile is the equivalent of a resume. It’s the place where you prove your claims and provide all that valuable information potential clients need and want. It’s where you walk your talk. Spend time and make sure your profile is professional, fully developed and error free. Link any external work you might have done, even if it’s only your blog. It all goes towards making you look professional.


DON’T send a ‘template’ proposal.

When I applied to my very first Upwork job, I went in blindly and wrote a very cheery, friendly proposal that was very tailored to the specific job I was applying to. I got that job. I got it because I made a personal connection with the client. Later, I read about using template proposals to save time when bulk applying to jobs. I tried this method for a while, sending a template based proposal to approximately a dozen jobs. I got none. I got none because I was not personal, did not show genuineness or my own personality in my proposal. That’s what clients want to see; you. So do away with the template.

DO provide relevant samples of your work.

When applying to jobs, try to match the job type with samples of your previous work that closely match the job. Pitching to ghost-write a romance novella? Send a chapter from a romance novel. Pitching to write blog articles? Send one of your own blog posts. And if you don’t have a relevant piece of writing, write one just for the pitch; your client will be impressed with the effort you’ve gone to.

DON’T accept jobs that don’t ‘feel’ right. 

The new freelancer may be tempted to take on any job to make their name and gain positive recommendations on Upwork. I contemplated taking on a job that involved writing twenty 1,500 word posts for $20, in order to have a shot at an ongoing blog writing gig. However, in the end, I realised I was actually agreeing to write 1,500 words twenty times for $1 each article! I may have been desperate to make a name, but I know my worth. Don’t settle for a job that makes you feel uneasy, unethical or just plain cheap.


DO communicate frequently with your client.

I cannot stress this point enough. Clients love communication. Whether it’s to clarify what the job involves or to make a quick progress update, keeping good communication with your client tells them you value them and the job. While you’re at it, remember your manners; please, thank you and take care go a long way in creating a genuine, warm relationship.

DON’T overcommit. 

It’s tempting at first to apply to all the jobs you see. More proposals mean more chances of winning a job right? Yes, that is true. However, if you’re writing in your spare time, you need to have a very good idea of how much time you can commit to writing. You need to further realise that, unlike your day job, freelance writing can be unpredictable. Your client might ask for one blog article this week, so you apply to six more jobs to take up the slack, only to have your client ask for ten blogs next week, and four new clients agree to your proposals! Before applying to more jobs, ask yourself, ‘if they all came in can I juggle the load?’

DO stick to deadlines. 

You might not always know the extraneous circumstances of a job. The client may need a piece of writing from you to satisfy a deadline on their end. Therefore, it’s important to take deadlines seriously and stick to them. This is also where communication with your clients is critical; ask exactly when they need a piece if they haven’t said. Better to ask and know for sure than to miss a deadline, or work yourself to the bone if it’s not due for two weeks!


DON’T be afraid to set your hourly rate high(ish). 

You want to appear professional above all else. That’s why you need to spend time on your profile and proposals. But how can you appear professional if you put a value on your writing as low as $5 an hour? That reeks to clients that you either don’t value yourself or your writing just plain stinks. Set your hourly rate at what you think you would reasonably be prepared to pay for your own service. You know your own writing best, so how good are you?

DO the best possible job you can.

Approach each job for a client as though it was for yourself. Bring your A game. Don’t settle for poor grammar, mediocre structure and shoddy research just because it’s for someone else. You wouldn’t do it to yourself. Don’t do it to your clients. Give your best and you’ll create a pocketful of repeat clients and hopefully some pretty good feedback.

DON’T give up.

I made $500 in my first month on Upwork using these tips. I cannot guarantee this will happen to you, and if it doesn’t, I implore you, don’t give up. Persevere and apply these tips. If you have the talent and the tenacity, you too can make up to 1K per month on Upwork in your spare time.

Jessica Bakkers

45 thoughts on “Make up to 1K a month on Upwork in your spare time”

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  1. Brilliant topic as always, Jessica. I used to use Upwork when its name was Elance. I used to offer ASP and Database programming… Thank you for encouraging me to consider re-using it again. No body hates easy money. And thank you for the good tips about best practices…

  2. I’m grateful for this post. I’m hopefully going to try my hand at freelance writing in the near future. I am discouraged about how little they pay. Are most jobs ghostwriting, or are there some where you have a by-line?
    Can I sent links to blog posts for writing samples? They are really the only writing samples I have right now. I did do a couple of ghostwriting gigs in the past, but obviously can’t take credit for them. Thanks

    • Yes you do have to sift through to find the good jobs. I’ve found a few clients who are willing to pay pretty well and now I’m predominantly working with them. Most are ghostwriting gigs (which does suck a bit as you don’t get credit) but the money helps take the sting out.
      The only thing I’d say is if you’re trying to write your own fiction novel at the same time, stay away from fiction ghostwriting. It’s just too draining on your creativity (I’ve written two ghostwritten novels in the last 3 months meanwhile my own novel has sat at the same word count for nearly the same length of time 😞 ).
      Yes you can use links to your blog posts as evidence of your writing, or directly upload them as Word docs / PDF if you keep copies of your blogs.
      Best of luck and I hope you can make a few dollars!

      • Thank you so much for all of this helpful information, Jessica! I really appreciate it.

        Best of luck in getting back to your novel. Someday I hope to work more on my memoir. I only just finished one of the perhaps 14 chapters I have planned for it.

  3. Thank you. It is good to know how long it takes to progress on Upwork. I got my first client within a week. The second one was almost a law student who wished to engage in academic cheating… I didn’t take that job, but noticed a lot of students asking for other people to do their assignments on there and it seems a bit too rampant. I hope Upwork fixes that soon.


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